What I Believe

Today is Monday, September 5, 2022, in the 23rd week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ dwell in your soul today!

Day 23,552

Today is Labor Day in the US, a holiday for many people (not the retail folks, though).

We had a nice thunderstorm with a decent amount of rain, yesterday afternoon. During the storm (we were under a “severe thunderstorm warning,” but it didn’t seem that severe in our location), the temperature dropped from 93 (the high for the day) to 70, in the space of less than an hour. I ventured out to get Sonic drinks between 3:30 and 4:00, and it was very nice outside. According to the site I use to check the amount, we got .38 inch in the last 72 hours. That’s the way I like my rain, not 9.5 inches in, say, twelve hours.

Today’s high is predicted to be 91, and our highs seem to be stuck in the 89-92 zone for the next ten days. The record high for today’s date was, once again, in 2000, at 105. I’m glad I don’t live in Citrus Heights, CA. One source predicts a high of 113 there, today. Egad.

We watched the Elvis movie, yesterday, on HBO Max. It’s a very well-done movie, and the young man who plays Elvis Presley did a very good job. I understand he did a lot of the singing, and also plays piano and guitar. Tom Hanks plays Col. Tom Parker. In this movie, it is coming from Parker’s POV, as he tries to convince us (not successfully) that he is not the villain, here, but that Elvis wouldn’t have existed without him.

I think I might do a separate review of the movie, later.

The Texas Rangers lost the fourth and final game to the Boston Red Sox, yesterday, 5-2. The Sox swept the Rangers. Have the Rangers given up? Or are the Red Sox surging? Hard to say. The Sox may have a slim chance of making the playoffs, and the Rangers have slim to none. The Rangers are now 58-75, soon to be twenty games below .500. The Angels lost, though, so the Rangers are still in third place in the AL West, 27.5 out of first place and 15.5 out of a Wild Card spot. Their division E# is 2, and the WCE# is 15. They have 29 games left, and begin a series in Houston today.

The Red Sox are 67-68, almost back to .500. They are still in last place in the AL East, 13.5 out of first and 7.5 out of a Wild Card spot. Their division E# is 15, and their WCE# is 22. They have 27 games left, and begin an important series in Tampa today.

The Minnesota Twins have caught up with the Cleveland Guardians, as the Guardians have lost five in a row. This is important for Minnesota, as there is currently no team in the AL Central in a Wild Card spot, because they are still locked up by two AL East teams and one AL West team. The Red Sox could knock Tampa out of that spot this week. Here’s hoping.

The Dodgers won again, so their MLB leading record is now 92-41. With 29 games left, they have to win 25 of those to break the 116 win record. The Nationals won again, but still have the worst record, at 47-87. The Mariners continue to win, now having a seven-game win streak. The Rangers, feeling the need to be the “best” at something, are in sole possession of an eight-game losing streak. The Dodgers edge closer to a +300 run differential, now at +294. The Pirates have overtaken the Nationals with the worst run differential, now at -209.

Not much on the agenda for today. Groceries are on the way, I’ve ordered some Crumbl cookies for the family, and we might have Lone Star BBQ for lunch. It’s Monday, so I’ll probably make chili for dinner, this evening. There might be a movie at some point, too.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

We thank you, Father in heaven, that you concern yourself with us and that you bind us to yourself through all your deeds and all your help. We thank you for showing us a way of hope, a way that becomes always clearer, always firmer under our feet. On this way we can defy every evil of this world and time, knowing for sure that everything will come out right and we will all be brought to the great, eternal goal, even though we have to deny ourselves and go through much suffering. Your kingdom must come to the glory of your name, so that all people may live on a higher plane and follow you, the only true help and true life. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.
(2 Timothy 4:7-8 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. that God concerns Himself with us and helps us, showing us a way of hope, which, if we are following Him, becomes ever more clear
  2. that we who long for Christ’s appearing will be awarded a crown of righteousness at the end of the race
  3. that Jesus is the resurrection and the life, and, though we physically die, yet we shall live
  4. for the rest that comes with my relationship with Christ
  5. for the example of Jesus and His prayer life

So the sisters sent to him, saying, “Lord, he whom you love is ill.” But when Jesus heard it he said, “This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”
(John 11:3-4 ESV)

Then Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus has died, and for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.”
(John 11:14-15 ESV)

Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.” Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.”
(John 11:21-27 ESV)

We give thanks to you, O God; 
we give thanks, for your name is near. 
We recount your wondrous deeds.
(Psalms 75:1 ESV)

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
(Romans 8:28 ESV)


All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
(Matthew 11:27-30 ESV)

Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.
(Isaiah 40:30-31 ESV)

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
(Matthew 6:33 ESV)


And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, [Jesus] departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed.
(Mark 1:35 ESV)


“All things work together for good.” When Jesus received word of Lazarus’s (did anyone else grow up hearing people call him “Lasaruth?”) illness, He purposefully delayed His visit. I think it is important to understand this, to comprehend it fully, or at least as fully as it is possible for our human brains.

Jesus let Lazarus die, in order for God to be glorified by raising him from the dead!

Take a few minutes to process this. It’s not unlike the man that was born blind, to whom Jesus restored sight. Jesus declared that it happened that God might be glorified.

There are people who would explain away things like this, try to reason humanistic values into the truth. “My God would never do something like that; He wouldn’t intentionally cause someone pain.”

The Bible says differently. And if you’re not okay with that, then your understanding of God Almighty is somewhat incomplete.

Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases.
(Psalms 115:3 ESV)

I bow down toward your holy temple and give thanks to your name for your steadfast love and your faithfulness, for you have exalted above all things your name and your word.
(Psalms 138:2 ESV)

Here’s the thing. God created everything. He created the universe, then He created life on this planet. He may or may not have created life on other worlds. If He has, He hasn’t deemed it necessary to tell us about that.

He has the right to do whatever pleases Him, including things that will glorify Himself. And He is worthy of all of that glory because, as previously stated, He is the Creator. If you create something, it is yours, and it is your right to do whatever you wish with that creation.

Anyway . . . back to Lazarus. He was allowed to die so that the world could see the power of God in resurrection. It was a foreshadowing of what would happen to Jesus, who allowed Himself to die, so that God could be glorified in His resurrection.

And yes, Jesus allowed Himself to die.

“No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.”
(John 10:18 ESV)

And this, again, causes us to consider our thoughts about Jesus. I’ve mentioned this before, and will likely do so again. Any thoughts of Jesus simply being a “good person,” or a “good teacher,” are simply ridiculous, because of the claims He, Himself made. If any “normal” human being said the words in John 10:18, today, he would be locked up as crazy and be forced into therapy.

Either Jesus was exactly who He claimed to be, or He was insane, or He was an outright liar. Those are the only three options.

And if we believe that He was exactly who He claimed to be, then we should be believing His words and obeying His commands.

I do my best, in human terms, to do that. I believe that He was who He claimed to be; I believe His words, believing that He is the resurrection and the life, and that, even though I die, which I will, that I will live on into eternity, after the resurrection. Lazarus died again. He wouldn’t be the only person in history to do so, but there are only a handful of people who would die twice. And Lazarus will live again, after the resurrection, which will occur at the second coming of Christ.

I will remind you that I do not believe in the popular notion of a “rapture.”

I also try my best to obey the commands of Jesus, which are, as previously stated (perhaps ad nauseum to some), to love the Lord with all of our being, lover our neighbors as ourselves, and to love one another (all the saints) the way Christ has loved us.

So that’s what I believe. That wasn’t the original direction this was going to take, but, as any real writer (not that I’m a “real writer,” mind you) knows, sometimes your characters take you into some strange places.

I believe in God the Father, maker of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, His only Son, 
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, 
and born of the virgin Mary.
I believe He lived a sinless life and performed many miracles while on earth,
and was crucified, buried, and rose again on the third day.
I believe He ascended into heaven (I'm not sure about the descending into hell part)
where He sits at the right hand of God (except for that bit when Stephen was stoned and He was standing up)
until the day He will return to resurrect those who have "fallen asleep,"
and gather up the rest who are still alive
to live with Him in eternity in a new heaven and a new earth, 
wherever those will be.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the unified Church, the Body of Christ,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting.

That’s mostly the Apostles’ Creed, with some modifications.

I also believe in the rest that comes from following Christ and walking in His easy yoke. He bids us come to Him when we are weary and He will give us rest. He does the hardest work, if we will but let Him.


Father, I have lived most of my life believing in You and in Christ. I have believed longer than I can remember. I have loved Your Word since I have been able to read. Sure, there are some times, in the course of my life, that my belief waned, and that maybe I didn’t love Your Word as much as other times. Nevertheless, I still believe, today. In fact, my belief today is stronger than ever, and I praise You for bringing that to pass in me.

My belief and acknowledgment of the Holy Spirit and His power has not been as long or consistent as my belief in You and Christ. That is more complicated, and my “understanding,” if we can call it that, of the Holy Spirit came much later in life. I now, while not necessarily claiming to understand or comprehend, embrace the truth of the Holy Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, all equally loving and directing our attention to the other two. Three in One, God in three persons, blessed Trinity.

I believe that You are the Creator and that You do whatever pleases You. I am very glad that one of the things that pleases You is to commune with us, Your creation, Your people. I am grateful that You condescend to be concerned about us, and that You give us light and life. It is because of this belief that I can read the account of Lazarus without being upset about him being allowed to die so that You could be glorified. You are God; it is all about You, it is not about me or us. It is also about Jesus Christ, Your Son, and His glory.

I thank You for Jesus and all that He has done for us. I feel like I am rambling a bit, today, but there are a lot of thoughts running through my head, and I can’t quite make them all make sense. But another thing I believe is that the Holy Spirit intercedes for me when I do not know how to put my prayers into words. So I have faith that this is happening today.

Help me to be a light in this world of trouble. Help me to follow the commands of Jesus, to love You and to love people, giving them encouragement instead of criticism (oh, how critical I have been in the past . . . my God, I pray for forgiveness for that!). There is more than enough criticism in this world, Father. Help me be light, life, and encouragement to people. Salt and light.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


Praise God from whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, you heavenly hosts;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
(Traditional Doxology)

Grace and peace, friends.

The Conscience

Today is Sunday, September 4, 2022, in the 23rd week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ dwell within you today!

Day 23,551

Tomorrow is Labor Day, a holiday in the US. C will be off all day and has promised that she doesn’t plan to open her work computer. I don’t work on Mondays, anyway, so it’s just another day for me, except that we won’t get any mail.

Yesterday was a warm one, getting up to 94 in our area. I swear I opened my weather app, while I was at the library, and it said 97, but the official history for the closest airport says it reached 94. There was no rain, yesterday, which is not surprising. There is some chance of rain today, with possible afternoon thunderstorms, with an expected high of 95. The record high for today’s date was, once again, in 2000, and was 110 degrees! We have had 1.1 inches of rain in the past 72 hours, at our house. The ten-day forecast shows five days of 90+, and five days in the upper eighties. Summer will not go quietly, it seems.

There was a steady stream of patrons at the library, yesterday, which made it go by fairly quickly. The book drops were quite busy, as we filled up about six carts of books that were returned. There were two carts of youth (that means children’s in library lingo) books and two carts of adult fiction/non-fiction. One cart is DVDs and “talking books,” and the other cart is books that go on the new book display in front of the circ desk.

The Texas Rangers lost again to the Boston Red Sox, 5-3, and all three of those were scored in the top of the eighth inning. One of the bullpen pitchers started the game, and it was one who has not done well of late, so I’m scratching my head over that one. The Rangers are now at 58-74, still in third place in the AL West, but only by a half game, now. They are 26.5 out of first place, with a division E number of four, and 14.5 out of a Wild Card spot, with a WCE of 17.

The Red Sox improved to 66-68, but remain in last place in the AL East, still six games behind the Orioles. They are 13.5 out of first place, with an E number of 16, and 7.5 out of a Wild Card spot with a WCE of 23. The Rangers and Red Sox play one more time today, at 12:35 CDT.

Not much has changed in the playoff picture. New York, Houston, and Cleveland lead their divisions. Tampa and Seattle are in a virtual tie for the first two Wild Cards, and Toronto has the third spot. In the NL, the Dodgers, Mets, and Cards lead their divisions, and the Braves, Padres, and Phillies currently have the WC spots.

The Dodgers won, improving their MLB leading record to 91-41. The Nationals won, as well, but still have the worst record at 46-84. They are only 2.5 behind the Athletics, though, who have lost four in a row. The Mariners continue to streak, having won six in a row, now (the Rays have won five), and our Texas Rangers continue to lose, now having lost seven in a row. The Dodgers will likely lead the run differential for the remainder of the season, now at +289. The Nationals, though, do have a chance to not have the worst differential, currently at -212, but the Pirates are at -208. The Rangers, after losing 9-1 to the Red Sox a couple days ago, are now at -8, and the Red Sox have improved to -43.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord our God, let your light shine in our hearts, the light that can gladden us and lead us until all our longing is stilled. May the higher nature born in us become ever stronger so that the lower and perishable nature does not rule over us. Grant that we may overcome and that our hearts may rejoice in being allowed to strive for the highest good because we are your children who can share in what is eternal. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.
(Titus 3:5-7 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. for the light that shines in our hearts, “the light that can gladden us and lead us until all our longing is stilled” (Plough.com)
  2. for His great and infinite mercy, by which He has saved us
  3. for the Holy Spirit, poured out on us generously through jesus Christ
  4. that God desires to be gracious to us and bless us
  5. for the conscience; a gift from God that helps me determine right from wrong

Therefore the LORD waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. For the LORD is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him.
(Isaiah 30:18 ESV)

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.
(Jeremiah 29:11 ESV)


Thus says the LORD, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: “I am the LORD your God, who teaches you to profit, who leads you in the way you should go. Oh that you had paid attention to my commandments! Then your peace would have been like a river, and your righteousness like the waves of the sea; your offspring would have been like the sand, and your descendants like its grains; their name would never be cut off or destroyed from before me.”
(Isaiah 48:17-19 ESV)

But this command I gave them: ‘Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and you shall be my people. And walk in all the way that I command you, that it may be well with you.’
(Jeremiah 7:23 ESV)

“Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you? Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built. But the one who hears and does not do them is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the stream broke against it, immediately it fell, and the ruin of that house was great.”
(Luke 6:46-49 ESV)

But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.
(James 1:25 ESV)


I am speaking the truth in Christ—I am not lying; my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit—
(Romans 9:1 ESV)

And the LORD your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring, so that you will love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live.
(Deuteronomy 30:6 ESV)


“God waits to be gracious” (Isaiah 30:18). The Hebrew word for “gracious,” in that verse, is chanan. The literal meaning of the word is “to bend or stoop in kindness to an inferior; to favor, to bestow.” The NIV says, “the LORD longs to be gracious . . .”

The words “waits” and “longs” imply that there is a reason, though, that He is prevented from being gracious. Something is delaying God’s graciousness to His people. Now, in the Old Testament, this is speaking to a nation that is God’s people, the nation of Israel.

We no longer have a nation that is considered “God’s people.” God’s people is no longer a nation, but is now the Church, the Body of Christ. I think it is fair to read verses like Isaiah 30:18 and Jeremiah 29:11 and apply them to the individual within that body.

God seriously and sincerely desires, longs, waits, to be gracious to us and to shower us with blessings.

But something delays this blessing, sometimes. Isaiah 48 sheds some light on this. “Oh that you had paid attention to my commandments!” There it is. And this should be no surprise to anyone who has read the words of Jesus in the New Testament, because He says, multiple times, that, if we love Him, we will keep His commandments, or that if we abide in Him and abide in His Word, we can ask for whatever we desire, and He will give it to us.

“Abide” means “to dwell, to live within,” and if we are dwelling in Christ and in His Word, we will obey His commands.

And what are His commands? If you have read this blog before, you know the answer.

And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.
(Matthew 22:37-40 ESV)

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
(John 13:34-35 ESV)

Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.
(Romans 13:8 ESV)

So, if I believe, or find, that God is not, in fact, being gracious to me (which is absurd, because the very fact that I just took another breath is grace . . . everything that allows my life to continue is grace), it is because there is some point in my life where I have not been obedient.

This is not to induce guilt or shame. Especially not shame, because I am a firm believer that shame is a terrible thing, a tool of our enemy.

However, it is to force us to take a look at ourselves and be honest with ourselves.

I know no person who is 100% obedient to those commands, 24/7. I know a person or two that are close. But we are all human, and we all fail.

And this is where that gift of conscience comes into play. Look at that verse from Romans 9 up there, where Paul talks about his conscience bearing witness. What is “conscience?”

“An inner feeling or voice viewed as acting as a guide to the rightness or wrongness of one’s behavior.”

Here’s what Andrew Murray has to say about conscience: “If the voice of conscience tells you of a course of action that is nobler or better, and you choose something else because it is easier or pleasing to self, you ill-equip yourself for the teaching of the Spirit by disobeying the voice of God.”

Keep in mind that Brother Murray is writing to Christians, here. Not to say that the unbeliever doesn’t have a conscience; of course they do (unless they are a psychopath), and I find that some of them do a better job of obeying that conscience than some believers.

I have the Spirit of Christ dwelling within me. Therefore, my “conscience,” as it were, as Murray implies, is equal to the voice of God. It tells me if something I am considering is right or wrong. Or, perhaps, it also tells me if there is something that I should be doing that I am not doing.

“You really ought to help that person. Give them something.”

“You shouldn’t do that thing you’re thinking about doing.”

You should do that thing you’re thinking about not doing.”

Murray then gives us that verse from Deuteronomy 30 about God circumcising the heart. He advises us to “claim this promise.” If we allow God to “circumcise” our heart, then we will, it says, love Him with our entire being, “and live.”

And we will experience the full extent of the graciousness with which God longs and waits to bless us.

“Believe in the love of God and the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Trust the Spirit that is in you, enabling you to love and so cause you to walk in God’s statutes. In the strength of this faith, and in the assurance of sufficient grace, which is made perfect in weakness, enter into God’s love and the life of living obedience it enables.”

It is only the continual presence of Jesus and His love that can enable this continual obedience in us.


Father, strengthen this conscience within me, that I might hear Your voice more readily, and be more obedient to Your commands. Help me to truly live, letting that life come to me because I have loved You with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength. And, in doing this, help me to love my neighbor as myself and my brothers and sisters in Christ, as He has loved us.

Let the love of Christ be continually fueling my own love, as I allow it to channel through me, driving my every behavior. This is a tall order, Lord. I am not asking for perfection; well, maybe I am, knowing Your desire for me is to be “perfect, even as my Father in heaven is perfect.” Yet, I know that I cannot be, at least not as long as I dwell in this mortal coil.

But my desire is to strive for this perfection. Not so that I can boast; for I want to have no part in boasting of anything that I have done. Rather, I desire to boast only in You and what Christ has done in my own weakness. Let my weakness be seen, that You might be seen to be strong. Let my foolishness be known, that You might seen to be wise.

I pray for the Body of Christ, that we might do a better job of heeding the conscience that is the voice of Your Holy Spirit, that we might follow the commands of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and might feed the hungry, clothe the naked, free the prisoners, and stop oppression in His name.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus.


Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the saints greet you. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
(2 Corinthians 13:11-14 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

Specific Prayer

Today is Saturday, September 3, 2022, in the 22nd week of Ordinary Time.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,550

It is officially the Labor Day weekend, so a lot of people are enjoying a long weekend. C will be one of those. It makes not a lot of difference to me, because I am always off Mondays, and I am scheduled to work today. I find myself wondering if the library will be slow today. I know it will be closed on Monday.

As for my schedule, it is changing next week. And because of the way the city’s pay schedule works, I will be working next Thursday and next Friday. But I would rather do that next week than the following week, because next week is my “light week,” meaning that, were it not for this schedule change, I would only work two days. With the new schedule taking effect, I will work three. If it had been delayed until the following week, I would have wound up working five days in a row. Oh, the horror! Hahaha!

This morning, I am due in at 9:30, and will work until 6:15 PM. I do plan on making burgers for dinner tonight. That reminds me . . . I have to put meat out to thaw. Be right back.

Thanks for waiting.

Yesterday’s high only reached 84, but it’s supposed to hit 93 today. There is little chance of rain, today, but we had a little bit yesterday, to make three consecutive days where we had at least a small amount of rain. According to one website, we have had a little over an inch of rain in the last 72 hours. The record high for today’s date was, once again, 108, back in 2000. You would think that I would remember that year, being that hot, this late. On the other hand, that was 22 years ago, wasn’t it? Egad.

The Red Sox beat the Rangers 9-1, last night. Can we go ahead and say that the Dallas Kuechel experiment is a miserable failure?? The Rangers are now 58-73, still in third place (still by a game and a half) in the AL West, 26.5 out of first place, and 13.5 out of a Wild Card spot. Their division E number is now 5, and the WCE number is 19.

The Red Sox are 65-68, still in last place in the AL East, 14.5 out of first place, and 7.5 out of a Wild Card spot. Their division E number is 16, and their WCE number is 24. The two teams play again this afternoon at 3:10 CDT, in Boston. Texas has 31 games left, and Boston has 29.

The Dodgers have lost three in a row, now, diminishing their chances of breaking the win record. They are at 90-41, still leading MLB. The Nationals still trail the pack with 45-87, but only 3.5 games behind the Athletics. The Seattle Mariners now hold the leading win streak with five wins in a row. The Texas Rangers are at least leading in something, right? They now have the longest losing streak in MLB, at six consecutive games. The Dodgers’ run differential went down, but they are still almost 100 runs better than the next team, with a differential of +278. The Nats remain at the bottom, at -218.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord our God, we thank you that you come to help us with your power and might. We thank you that you come to us in our suffering and strengthen us in all we must endure on earth. You help us so that what is good and full of light comes more and more to us and to all people. We thank you and pray that your power, coming from the invisible world into the visible, may continue its quiet working in us until the day when everyone can see Jesus Christ, who is the same yesterday, today, and into all eternity. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
(2 Corinthians 4:16-18 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. that God sends His strength and power to us, coming from the invisible world into the visible
  2. that He helps us to see what is good and full of light in this world of trouble and distress
  3. that these “light and momentary troubles” are nothing compared to the “eternal glory that far outweighs them all”
  4. for the constant presence of Jesus in my life, and that He will never leave me
  5. for the question that Jesus asks in Mark 10:51, “What do you want me to do for you?”

“I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.”
(John 10:9-18 ESV)

Nevertheless, I am continually with you; 
you hold my right hand. 
You guide me with your counsel, 
and afterward you will receive me to glory. 
Whom have I in heaven but you? 
And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. 
My flesh and my heart may fail, 
but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
(Psalms 73:23-26 ESV)

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.
(Psalms 32:8 NIV)

“The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”
(Deuteronomy 31:8 NIV)

“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”
(Isaiah 43:18-19 NIV)

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!
(2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV)

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
(Philippians 4:6-7 NIV)

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
(Hebrews 13:8 NIV)


And Jesus said to him, “What do you want me to do for you?”
(Mark 10:51 ESV)


Jesus is clear. He is the door. He has already called Himself the way, the truth, and the life. He is not a door; He is the door. He then says, “If anyone enters by me, he will be saved.”

But doors serve more functions than just entryway. They also serve as protection. When the door is closed, nothing can get in to harm us. And there is also a great mystery, here. While Jesus is the door, He also goes before us, to lead the way. He can be our access point, while at the same time, never leaving us. Therefore, we have no reason to be afraid.

Once we accept these truths, then we can dig a little deeper and look at this question that Jesus asked the blind man. “What do you want me to do for you?”

I can easily see Jesus asking the same question of us, today?

“What do you want me to do for you?”

What is your answer to that question? I believe that Jesus truly wants to know the specifics, here. “He wants to hear from the man’s lips not only the general petition for mercy but also the distinct expression of his desire. Until he declares it, he is not healed.” (Andrew Murray, emphasis added)


Father, help us to answer this question. Help us to be specific with Jesus when we answer it. It truly helps us to put our specific desires into words. I can speak from experience to say that there have been times when I expressed my desire out loud, it began to sound trivial and selfish. While I certainly believe the truth that You know what we need or desire before we express it, I also believe that You desire to hear us pray specifically.

Thank You for Your constant presence in my life, and that You will never leave me. This brings me great comfort. Would that the Psalm were true, that I truly desire nothing on earth besides You. I find that I have not quite made it to that point, yet, but it is my desire to do so. Help me get there, Father. Decrease my desires for earthly things, that I might only desire You and Your presence.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


Everything comes from him; 
Everything happens through him; 
Everything ends up in him. 
Always glory! 
Always praise! 
Yes. Yes. Yes. 
(Romans 11:36 MSG)

Grace and peace, friends.

There Is No Other

Today is Monday, the sixth of September, 2021. Labor Day in the U.S.

Peace be with you.

Day 23,188

Sixteen days until the end of summer (Autumnal Equinox, September 22)

I’m a little late with this, today. Oh, well. Nothing wrong, or anything. I’m just moving slower, today, because I have no reason to do otherwise.

That, and C has been waking up in the early morning hours and moving to the living room. Last night, I got back to sleep more quickly than Saturday night. And I actually slept until almost 8:00, this morning, which is unheard of, for me.

Speaking of C, she took her first post-surgery shower, this morning, which means we took off the bandage and got our first look at the incision. It looks pretty good, nice and clean, with no swelling or redness about. Her instructions say to not re-cover it, so we didn’t. She is getting around pretty well, even walking without her walker, so that’s encouraging. She feels super-encouraged after the shower. So the next challenge will be to keep her from getting too active too soon.

She is supposed to go back to the doctor on Friday, three weeks after the surgery, which is still in September, so I will have no problem driving her to the appointment, as my Friday working won’t begin until after October 1.

There are no other plans for today.

Well, well . . . speaking of the library (I know I didn’t specifically mention “library,” but I did talk about “work”), today is Read A Book Day. I will definitely be doing some of that today. Probably not a whole book, because I’m less than two hundred pages into A Dance with Dragons, by George R.R. Martin, which is, a little over one thousand pages deep. Egad.

Today’s word is indefatigable, an adjective, which means “incapable of being tired out; not yielding to fatigue; untiring.” It is also a quality required to read a book by George R.R. Martin.

Today’s quote is from Voltaire: “It is not love that should be depicted as blind, but self-love.” That is quite profound.

Significant (in my opinion) birthdays on September 6:

Marquis de Lafayette, American patriot and French revolutionary, brilliantly portrayed by Daveed Diggs in Hamilton, 1757-1834
Max Schreck, German actor, played the original Nosferatu, 1879-1936
Vince DiMaggio, baseball player (the lesser known DiMaggio brother), 1912-1986
Jimmy Reed, blues singer ("Bright Lights, Big City"), 1925-1976
Jo Anne Worley, comedienne (Laugh-In), 1937 (84)
Sergio Aragones, Spanish-born illustrator (I know him best for his work in Mad Magazine), 1937 (also 84)
David Allan Coe, country singer/songwriter, 1939 (82)
Roger Waters, English bassist and vocalist (Pink Floyd), 1943 (78)
Jane Curtin, actress (Saturday Night Live), 1947 (74)
Dolores O'Riordan, Irish musician (The Cranberries), 1971-2018
Daveed Diggs as Marquis de Lafayette
Sergio cartoons from Mad Magazine
Dolores O’Riordan, lead singer, 1971-2018

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

New Mornings, by S. Michaels (LightWrighters)

Resting in
each new day’s
promises
 
©2021 S. Michaels
Simplifying
(Retro Haiku/3-3-3)

I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them.
(1 Timothy 2:1 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

1. that C continues to progress and improve
2. for all the people in my life . . . even the ones I don't like
3. that the reason You bless us is so that Your great Name may be known throughout the earth
4. that besides You, there is no other
5. that we, as "Gentiles," have received Your grace

Scriptures and Prayers from Seeking God’s Face: Praying with the Bible through the Year

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK SIXTEEN – DAY TWO

INVITATION

The LORD is good, a strong refuge when trouble comes. He is close to those who trust in him.
(Nahum 1:7 NLT)

During this quiet moment, I consider that You have told me to give thanks “for all people,” and to pray for them. This broadens the spectrum quite a bit, doesn’t it?

BIBLE SONG

For the director of music. With stringed instruments. A psalm. A song.

May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face shine on us— so that your ways may be known on earth, your salvation among all nations.

May the peoples praise you, God; may all the peoples praise you. May the nations be glad and sing for joy, for you rule the peoples with equity and guide the nations of the earth. May the peoples praise you, God; may all the peoples praise you.

The land yields its harvest; God, our God, blesses us. May God bless us still, so that all the ends of the earth will fear him.
(Psalms 67:1-7 NIV)

BIBLE READING

Ask now about the former days, long before your time, from the day God created human beings on the earth; ask from one end of the heavens to the other. Has anything so great as this ever happened, or has anything like it ever been heard of? Has any other people heard the voice of God speaking out of fire, as you have, and lived? Has any god ever tried to take for himself one nation out of another nation, by testings, by signs and wonders, by war, by a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, or by great and awesome deeds, like all the things the LORD your God did for you in Egypt before your very eyes?
You were shown these things so that you might know that the LORD is God; besides him there is no other.
Acknowledge and take to heart this day that the LORD is God in heaven above and on the earth below. There is no other. Keep his decrees and commands, which I am giving you today, so that it may go well with you and your children after you and that you may live long in the land the LORD your God gives you for all time.
(Deuteronomy 4:32-35, 39-40 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

I read these passages again, a little more slowly, seeking wisdom from God, and instruction from His Holy Spirit.

There is some deep and good stuff in these passages, today. The thing that I notice most in the passage from Psalm 67 is in the first part. It is the reason given in the request for God to be gracious, bless, and make His face shine on us. That reason is clear; there is no ambiguity about it. “So that Your ways may be known on earth, Your salvation among all nations.”

The unnamed psalmist then proceeds to let his desires known. He wants all people groups to praise God; he desires for the nations to be glad and sing for joy over the equitable ruling of our God.

The psalm then closes with yet another cry to the Lord to continue to bless His people, “so that all the ends of the earth will fear Him.”

The Deuteronomy passage, to me, seems to sort of bring this all together. If you go back to see who is talking in chapter 4, you get the idea that Moses is sort of giving a farewell speech, here.

And in today’s passage, he is reminding the people of Israel exactly who they are serving and following.

In all of history, has anything like this ever happened? Has there ever been a people who have heard the voice of God coming out of a cloud of fire, and lived to tell about it? Has any other “god” taken a people out of a larger group of people, and led them the way they have been led, and has any other people witnessed the kinds of miracles that Israel has witnessed?

These are the questions that Moses is asking them.

And then he “brings it home.”

You were shown these things so that you might know that the LORD is God; besides him there is no other.
(Deuteronomy 4:35 NIV)

He repeats it again, in verse 39.

Acknowledge and take to heart this day that the LORD is God in heaven above and on the earth below. There is no other.
(Deuteronomy 4:39 NIV)

Acknowledge it, Moses says. Then he strongly urges them to keep his commands, “so that it may go well with you.”

“There is no other.”

That’s kind of an important thing to realize. It’s a sort of “big deal.”

God is God, and there is no other. He, alone, is worthy of our worship and praise.

God, and God alone, created all these things we call our own.
From the mighty to the small, the glory in them all, 
is God's and God's alone.

God, and God alone, reveals the truth of all we call unknown;
And the best and worst of man, can't change the Master's plan;
it's God's and God's alone

God, and God alone, is fit to take the universe's throne
Let everything that lives reserve its truest praise 
for God and God alone.

God, and God alone, will be the joy of our eternal Home;
He will be our one desire, our hearts will never tire
of God, and God alone.

(Phil McHugh, copyright 1984)

Would you spend some time worshiping with me? I usually listen to Steve Green’s recording of this, but I discovered this one today. It’s quite beautiful.

Father, You, and You alone are worthy of all of these things. You are the only God. There is no other. To whom else shall we go for truth? To whom else shall we turn for life? All praise and glory go to You, Lord. Thank You for all things, for every good and perfect gift comes from You. Forgive us for the times when we hold other things higher than You. Forgive us for when we give honor, glory, and worship to other people or to things. By the power of Your Holy Spirit, please free Your Church from unholy attachments. May we give worship, honor, praise, and glory, to You and You alone.

Help me to see Your work in the world around me. May my eyes be open, everywhere I look, to see Your glory, and to see Your hands at work.

"Great and wonderful God,
what a story Your holy book tells!
Thank You for making Yourself known more openly in Your Word.
Help me understand that I will know You best not by mastering Scripture trivia but by entering in and becoming part of Your salvation story,
letting it lead and shape my life.
In the name of Jesus,
the story's center,
amen."

BLESSING

“Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”
(Matthew 11:29-30 NLT)

I pray for peace in our nation, peace in our world. I pray for racial injustice to end, and I pray for the pandemic to be over. Above all else, though, I pray for Your will to be done, on earth as it is in heaven. For Yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Let nothing disturb you,
let nothing frighten you,
all things will pass away.
God never changes;
patience obtains all things,
whoever has God lacks nothing.
God alone suffices.

Amen.
(St. Teresa of Avila)

Grace and peace, friends.

Reminding God What He Said

Today is Friday, the third of September, 2021.

Shalom Aleichem!

Day 23,185

Three days until Labor Day!

C’s surgery went well, yesterday. It took roughly the expected amount of time, and the doctor said everything went as planned. After about another hour and a half, I finally got to visit her in the room. Currently, we are not allowed in recovery.

She was in pain, but the initial blockers were still working, plus she was trying to “stay ahead of the pain” with the push-button pain relief in her IV. She was groggy and falling in and out of sleep, which is to be expected.

Around 3:00 PM, the PT person arrived, with the goal of simply getting C to stand up, assisted by a walker. C, being the habitual over-achiever that she is, wound up walking around the nurses’ station twice! She used the walker, but had no assistance (that I could see) from the therapist. Last night, around 9:00, she texted me to tell me that she walked around three times, the second time, and that the attending nurse (the PT will be back this morning) was certain that she would be released today.

This morning, she has noted on Facebook that the blocker has worn off, and that the pain is a little more intense. She still has the IV pain meds, though. I’m not sure what all they have prescribed her for home, but she already has most, if not all of it, here at the house. I know that Hydrocodone is one of them. She is slightly afraid of that particular medication, but I feel relatively sure that she will take at least some of them.

In about fifteen minutes, I’m due to take Cleopatra to the vet clinic for her spaying. I hid all of the food and water in R’s old bedroom, last night, and put the toilet lids down, because I have observed Cleo drinking from the toilet. This morning, when I got up at 6:00, all the cats were looking at me, like, “Well???” I told them I would feed them after I got back from the vet clinic, but I don’t think they understood me. As a matter of fact, Rocky (Russian Blue, short for Rachmaninoff) is, at this exact moment, attempting to lift the toilet lid in the master bathroom. Or it might have been Luna (tuxedo kitty).

I also told Cleo to not be discouraged, that we were not, in fact, abandoning her, even though it might seem that way. I don’t think she understood me, either. But perhaps reassuring tones of voice help.

Anyway, in about five minutes, or so, I will be interrupting my typing to take her to the vet.

Okay. I’m back, and have made my breakfast. Thanks for waiting.

I would like to share a story; something that happened to me, yesterday afternoon, while I was driving home from the hospital. I was on Hwy 183, westbound, when I heard a horrendous, loud, “POW,” and I swear I felt vibrations, as though I had struck something. But there was nothing close that I could have hit. However, two lanes over to my left, there was an eighteen-wheeler, and I glimpsed pieces of rubber flying off of one of its rear trailer tires. I can only assume that it had a blowout! The driver never lost control, though, and, as I passed and moved on ahead, saw that the truck was gradually switching lanes and moving over to the right side.

It sounded like a shotgun had gone off next to me. I confess that I might have said a swear.

I have spoken with C, this morning, and, while still in pain, she is doing better. She said that they have taken her push-button away and have moved her to taking pills. It sounds like the coming home time will be largely up to her, if she feels that she has gotten to a point where the pain is well-regulated. We are thinking about later, this evening, after I pick up Cleopatra from the clinic.

Today is Lazy Mom’s Day. The “Mom” of our house will certainly be being somewhat “lazy” today, but not totally by choice. I, on the other hand, having somewhat assumed the role of “Mr. Mom,” will only spend part of the day being lazy. There are definitely a few chores that need to be handled, today, one of which has already been done (taking aforementioned kitty to the vet). However, I feel relatively certain that there will be some gaming time.

The word for today is moratorium, a noun, which means, “a suspension of activity.” Last night, there was a moratorium on cats getting to eat or drink. Said moratorium has been lifted, as of 7:45 this morning.

Today’s quote is from Jules Renard: “Love is like an hourglass, with the heart filling up as the brain empties.” I remember moments when that is definitely true, most especially during adolescence. Jules Renard was a French dramatist.

And here are some folks who were born on September 3:

Mort Walker (Beetle Bailey, Hi & Lois), 1923-2018
Eileen Brennan (Laugh-In, Pvt Benjamin), 1932-2013
Freddie King (singer of the Blues), 1934-1976, born in Gilmer, TX
Don Brewer, drummer (Grand Funk Railroad), 73 years old today
Aaron "A-Train" Smith, drummer (The Temptations, The 77s, Rich Mullins), is 71 years old today. I am honored to be Facebook friends with Aaron.
Clare Kramer (Glory in Buffy the Vampire Slayer), is 47 today
Freddie King (1934-1976)
Don Brewer, drummer, 73 today. I never knew, until today, that he sang lead on this song!
Aaron “A-Train” Smith on drums.
Clare Kramer turns 47.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Come Let Me, by Daryl Madden

With so much to do
Feeling so stressed
With the gift of my peace
Come let me, give you rest

Such worries and fear
Things out of control
With the gift of my grace
Come let me, heal your soul

The effects of sin
So great is your pain
With the gift of my mercy
Come let me, free the chains

In times of despair
Is hard to cope
With the gift of my joy
Come let me, give you hope

With promises of man
Each temptation flawed
With the gift of my love
Come let me, be your God

I’ve probably been feeling more stressed these last two days than I have in the last month (which is virtually not at all), so this poem came at a perfect time for me. Thank you, brother Daryl!

My heart is confident in you, O God; my heart is confident. No wonder I can sing your praises! Wake up, my heart! Wake up, O lyre and harp! I will wake the dawn with my song. I will thank you, Lord, among all the people. I will sing your praises among the nations. For your unfailing love is as high as the heavens. Your faithfulness reaches to the clouds. Be exalted, O God, above the highest heavens. May your glory shine over all the earth.
(Psalms 57:7-11 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the confidence that I have in You
2. that I can sing Your praises, as well as play the "lyre and harp" (guitar and piano will have to suffice)
3. that Your glory will one day shine over all the earth
4. for Your patience with me/us
5. that we, with boldness, can quote Your Word back to You

Scriptures and Prayers from Seeking God’s Face: Praying with the Bible through the Year

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK FIFTEEN – DAY SIX

INVITATION

I will praise you, Lord, for everyone to hear, and I will sing hymns to you in every nation. Your love reaches higher than the heavens; your loyalty extends beyond the clouds.
(Psalms 57:9-10 CEV)

During this quiet time, I stop to reflect on the praises that are due You, O Lord. I don’t praise You enough. Reflecting back on yesterday’s readings, I find that my natural bent is still toward grumbling or complaining. May Your Holy Spirit continue to change me until that natural inclination becomes praise!

BIBLE SONG

For the director of music. A psalm of David.

Hear me, my God, as I voice my complaint; protect my life from the threat of the enemy.

Hide me from the conspiracy of the wicked, from the plots of evildoers. They sharpen their tongues like swords and aim cruel words like deadly arrows. They shoot from ambush at the innocent; they shoot suddenly, without fear.

They encourage each other in evil plans, they talk about hiding their snares; they say, “Who will see it?” They plot injustice and say, “We have devised a perfect plan!” Surely the human mind and heart are cunning.

But God will shoot them with his arrows; they will suddenly be struck down. He will turn their own tongues against them and bring them to ruin; all who see them will shake their heads in scorn.
(Psalms 64:1-8 NIV)

That night all the members of the community raised their voices and wept aloud. All the Israelites grumbled against Moses and Aaron, . . .
Then the glory of the LORD appeared at the tent of meeting to all the Israelites. The LORD said to Moses, “How long will these people treat me with contempt? How long will they refuse to believe in me, in spite of all the signs I have performed among them? I will strike them down with a plague and destroy them, but I will make you into a nation greater and stronger than they.”
Moses said to the LORD, “Then the Egyptians will hear about it! By your power you brought these people up from among them. . . .
“Now may the Lord’s strength be displayed, just as you have declared: ‘The LORD is slow to anger, abounding in love and forgiving sin and rebellion. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation.’ In accordance with your great love, forgive the sin of these people, just as you have pardoned them from the time they left Egypt until now.”
The LORD replied, “I have forgiven them, as you asked. Nevertheless, as surely as I live and as surely as the glory of the LORD fills the whole earth, not one of those who saw my glory and the signs I performed in Egypt and in the wilderness but who disobeyed me and tested me ten times— not one of them will ever see the land I promised on oath to their ancestors. No one who has treated me with contempt will ever see it. But because my servant Caleb has a different spirit and follows me wholeheartedly, I will bring him into the land he went to, and his descendants will inherit it.”
(Numbers 14:1-2A, 10B-13, 17-24 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I remain aware of the presence of the Lord, this morning, I linger over these passages, asking the Holy Spirit to show me something that applies to my life, during these times.

I find it ironic that, as I struggle to lean away from complaining, the passage from Psalms begins with a complaint.

David, however, is “complaining” about actual, human enemies. Any complaint that I might express usually involves some kind of inconvenience that has been thrust upon me. I rarely, if ever, have legitimate grounds for grumbling or complaining. Perhaps that is what I’m supposed to glean from this, today.

“You think you’ve got it bad? David had people shooting from ambush at him. They tried to kill him; they tried to steal his kingdom. Anybody trying to do that to you?”

Despite what many of us seem to think, we are all in pretty much the same “boat.” Therefore, our complaints are, largely, without merit.

We should keep reading, however, in Psalm 64. Verse 8 brings it all together.

The righteous will rejoice in the LORD and take refuge in him; all the upright in heart will glory in him!
(Psalms 64:10 NIV)

We might also remind ourselves that, when God does act, He does it for His own glory and for the sake of His own Name.

In the Numbers passage, the Lord had had enough of the grumbling of the ungrateful, short-sighted Israelites. (Honestly, I don’t believe He really planned to strike them all down. Perhaps He was testing Moses. You know what? What do I know?? I don’t have a clue. God knows everything, so He already knew how Moses would react to His threats.) He threatened to wipe out the Israelites, altogether, and turn Moses into an even greater nation. Was this an appeal to Moses’s vanity?? As it says in the parentheses, I do not presume to know the mind of the Almighty, at this point.)

But Moses, thank God, would have none of it. He stood up, not for his own glory or sake, but for the honor of the Name of the Lord!

Today’s Church must stop and ask herself, “Are we doing that, today? Are we standing up for the honor of the name of the Lord when we bicker amongst ourselves over our “freedoms” and “rights?”

Moses even quoted God back to Him! Talk about boldness!

“Now may the Lord’s strength be displayed, just as you have declared: ‘The LORD is slow to anger, abounding in love and forgiving sin and rebellion. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation.’ In accordance with your great love, forgive the sin of these people, just as you have pardoned them from the time they left Egypt until now.”
(Numbers 14:17-19 NIV)

And the Lord hears Moses, and forgives them. One thing to learn from this passage is that we can safely remind God what He said. It would probably be best, though, if we make sure that He really said it before we try that. I hear a lot of people claiming that God said things that He never said.

“God will never give you more than you can handle.”

“God helps those who help themselves.”

“God wants you to be rich and healthy.”

I’m sure you can think of others.

I’m not sure what to think about what I have written, this morning. I’m leaving it as is, though. Sometimes, I can come across as a bit “snarky.” But these last couple of days have been more than a little bit stressful. Yesterday’s blog was full of distractions and interruptions, and was completed on an iPad at the surgery hospital, in a room that must have been around forty degrees.

Nevertheless, I think I have gleaned some lessons. First, in continuation of yesterday’s post, learn how to live life without grumbling or complaining. For one thing, I don’t have it so bad, and for another thing, it almost got the Israelites eradicated. Second, learn the Word of the Lord. I can’t quote it back to Him, like Moses did, unless I know it. And it surely won’t do anyone any good to “quote” things back to God that He never said.

Father, I am so grateful for Your Word. It gives me so much in my life. It is so precious and so valuable. From it, I can receive everything that I need for life and godly living. From it, I see Your very great and precious promises, in which I can participate in Your nature, and escape the corruption of the world. Now, just help me to do this. And help me, please, to stop whining and grumbling about minor inconveniences. Just this morning, I found myself all disgruntled because I had to wait longer at the vet clinic than I though I should have. In comparison to Saul trying to kill David (throwing spears at him and stuff), that doesn’t seem so bad. In all seriousness, I love You Father, and I want to live my life in a way that shows that. Help me to excel at my two jobs, loving You and loving people. Loving people is a lot harder than loving You, but I guess You already know that, don’t You?

Lord, please give me great wonder at the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. Give us all the capacity to suffer alongside other people. And I especially lift up those who are orphaned, along with those who care for them.

"Father,
I hear Moses pray,
describing Your character and bombarding You with appeals to Your promises.
Give me that same hope-filled boldness,
which flows out of an intimacy with Jesus,
my praying mediator.
And help me,
like Moses,
to pray even for those who treat You with contempt and refuse to believe.
Forgive and show them Your mercy.
In the name of Jesus,
amen."

Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.
(Luke 18:1 NIV)

“What I learn again and again . . . is that the problems that twist me up so tightly and painfully today will unwind. The mere, mundane passage of time has a softening effect, yes. But the wiping away of every tear, the bracing wind of forgiveness, and the joyful acceptance of my life as He wills it come from God.”
(Amy Eddings, Daily Guideposts 2021)

This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.
(1 John 5:14-15 NIV)

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
(Philippians 4:6 NIV)

I pray for peace in our nation, peace in our world. I pray for racial injustice to end, and I pray for the pandemic to be over. Above all else, though, I pray for Your will to be done, on earth as it is in heaven. For Yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.
(Jude 1:24-25 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

God Can

Today is Wednesday, the first of September, 2021. Welcome to September.

Peace be unto you!

Day 23,183

Five days until Labor Day.

And only one more day until C’s back surgery. I believe we are supposed to be at the surgery center by 7:30 tomorrow morning. So there may not be a blog entry tomorrow, or it may be later than usual, and may look quite different than usual.

I work, today, from 1:00PM – 5:00PM. Yesterday, I spent time in the computer center, learning about helping patrons scan documents, send faxes (apparently, people still do that?), make copies, and use the library computers. Oh, and printing documents. People who don’t have access to personal printers can print documents from a variety of sources, for a small fee.

I’ve got a few things I want to get done before going to work today, so I’d best get a move-on.

Today is Ginger Cat Appreciation Day. We don’t have a “ginger” cat, these days, but we did, once upon a time. Her name was Ginger. Isn’t that original? But any day that has “cat” and “appreciation” in it, I’m a fan of. We have four cats, now. A grey and white mixed breed (Trixie), a Russian Blue, possibly full blood (Rachmaninoff, “Rocky” for short), a Tuxedo mixed breed (Luna), and the newest, a full-blood (no papers) Applehead Seal Point Siamese (Cleoapatra).

The word for today is alma mater (hey, that’s two words). The given definition is, “a school, college, or university at which one has studied and, usually, from which one has graduated.” In addition, it means, “the official anthem of a school, college, or university.” I don’t know if this is still the case, but the official anthem of Mineral Wells High School, when I went there (1972-1976) was sung to the tune of “Oh, Christmas Tree.” I swear I’m not making that up. The literal meaning of alma mater is “nourishing mother.” I’m sorry, but I don’t think of my high school or my college as my “nourishing mother.”

Today’s quote is from the great Samuel Clemens, whom we know best as Mark Twain. “A person who won’t read has no advantage over one who can’t read.” I agree 100%.

The following people (and many others) share September 1 as their birth date:

Johann Pachelbel, 1653-1706
Engelbert Humperdinck, 1854-1921 (the real one)
Edgar Rice Burroughs (Tarzan, John Carter of Mars), 1875-1950
Yvonne De Carlo (Lily Munster), 1922-2007
Seiji Ozawa (conductor), 1935 (86 today)
Lily Tomlin, 1939 (82 today)
Yvonne De Carlo, 1922-2007
Lily Tomlin, 82 years old today

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

“Enter, Lord Christ–
I have joy in Your coming.
You have given me life;
and I welcome Your coming.
I turn now to face You,
I lift up my eyes.
Be blessing my face, Lord;
be blessing my eyes.
May all my eye looks on
be blessed and be bright,
my neighbors, my loved ones
be blessed in Your sight.
You have given me life
and I welcome Your coming.
Be with me, Lord,
I have joy, I have joy.”
(Celtic Daily Prayer)

Give your burdens to the LORD, and he will take care of you. He will not permit the godly to slip and fall.
(Psalms 55:22 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

1. that You will not allow the godly to slip and fall
2. for the protection and peace that You provide
3. for the confidence that encourages us to cast our burdens upon You
4. for Your deep, deep love, that stretches higher than the heavens
5. that in You, alone, my soul finds rest
6. that You can

Scriptures and Prayers from Seeking God’s Face: Praying with the Bible through the Year

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK FIFTEEN – DAY FOUR

INVITATION

I’m thanking you, GOD, out loud in the streets, singing your praises in town and country. The deeper your love, the higher it goes; every cloud is a flag to your faithfulness.
(Psalms 57:9-10 MSG)

During this moment of quiet, I give You thanks, Father. It’s quiet, though, not “out loud in the streets,” but I will be singing Your praises later. I thank You for Your deep, deep, love that stretches higher than the heavens.

BIBLE SONG

For the director of music. For Jeduthun. A psalm of David.

Truly my soul finds rest in God; my salvation comes from him. Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.

How long will you assault me? Would all of you throw me down— this leaning wall, this tottering fence? Surely they intend to topple me from my lofty place; they take delight in lies. With their mouths they bless, but in their hearts they curse.

Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him. Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken. My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge. Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.
(Psalms 62:1-8 NIV)

BIBLE READING

The LORD said to Moses, “Send some men to explore the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the Israelites. From each ancestral tribe send one of its leaders.”
So at the LORD’s command Moses sent them out from the Desert of Paran. All of them were leaders of the Israelites.
They came back to Moses and Aaron and the whole Israelite community at Kadesh in the Desert of Paran. There they reported to them and to the whole assembly and showed them the fruit of the land. They gave Moses this account: “We went into the land to which you sent us, and it does flow with milk and honey! Here is its fruit. But the people who live there are powerful, and the cities are fortified and very large. We even saw descendants of Anak there. The Amalekites live in the Negev; the Hittites, Jebusites and Amorites live in the hill country; and the Canaanites live near the sea and along the Jordan.”
Then Caleb silenced the people before Moses and said, “We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.”
But the men who had gone up with him said, “We can’t attack those people; they are stronger than we are.” And they spread among the Israelites a bad report about the land they had explored. They said, “The land we explored devours those living in it. All the people we saw there are of great size. We saw the Nephilim there (the descendants of Anak come from the Nephilim). We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them.”
(Numbers 13:1-3, 26-33 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I enjoy the presence of the Lord, I linger over the words of these passages, searching for truth and inspiration for my soul. My soul remains slightly anxious, over the events still to occur during the rest of the week. My soul needs to be quieted and calmed, because anxiety solves nothing, ever. It is mild, but it is still there.

Why are you down in the dumps, dear soul? Why are you crying the blues? Fix my eyes on God— soon I’ll be praising again. He puts a smile on my face. He’s my God.
(Psalms 43:5 MSG)

It is only in the Lord, and Him alone, where my soul can find true rest. It is only in our Father that I can find true peace. So, when I am not experiencing peace and rest, it stands to reason that I am not trusting explicitly in Him. This is true for all humanity.

There are people who have severe mental conditions, in which they experience severe anxiety or depression, which completely immobilizes them. I’m not speaking of that kind of anxiety. I am speaking of the every-day kind of worry and anxiety. My anxieties, this morning, concern not only C’s surgery and well-being tomorrow, but the timing of everything, and the after care of both C and the kitten.

I am sure it will all work out fine. But there is a disconnect somewhere between my brain and my soul.

But it is only in the Lord that I can find rest. So, my soul, find rest in God. Find your hope in Him. Stop worrying about things over which you have no control.

You are my rock and my salvation, Lord. You are my fortress; in the end, ultimately, I will not be shaken. These anxieties are nothing more than bumps in the road.

I will not be like the people of Israel, when Moses sent them into Canaan to scope out the land they were to be given. They came back with wonderful fruit, but they also saw “giants.”

“Here’s the beautiful fruit! The land flows with milk and honey. But the people are really big and scary! We can’t do this!!”

Caleb, alone attempted to stop the insanity. But the men who went with him insisted. “We can’t attack these people; they are stronger than we are!”

The mistake that these people made was in the first word of that sentence. “WE.” It was true, what they said. Those people were stronger than them, bigger than them. But were they bigger and stronger than the God who just delivered them from the Egyptian army, which was also stronger and bigger than them??

When I take my eyes off of the Lord, who alone is my rest and hope, who alone is my rock and my fortress, and begin to fix my eyes on me and my own inadequacies, the same thing happens. I tend to believe that I can’t do it. My “enemy” is bigger and stronger than me! Well, yes. It’s true. My “enemy” is, indeed, bigger and stronger than me.

As is the task in front of me, which is not necessarily my enemy, but simply something that I must navigate through and endure. Maybe I can’t do it, maybe I can. But I know one thing, and I am fully persuaded of it.

God can.

You need no more words than that. Maybe the subtitle of the Bible should be “God Can.” That may be my new favorite combination of words. I don’t know if that exact combination is in Scripture, verbatim, like “But God” is. But over and over and over, the stories in the Bible prove that, even if the exact combination of words is not there, God can!

So take whatever you are facing today and apply these two simple words to it:

Father, You have done it again. I never stop being amazed at the way You come through in moments of doubt and anxiety. I love the way You can work through Your Word, actively, while I am typing away at these blogs. I never know where You are going to take me, but it is always a good place, and a better place than when I started. Thank You for reminding me, this morning, that no matter what is facing me, You can. I can’t. Many times I can’t. There are times when I can, but even then, that is only because of You in my life. It’s all because of You. Thank You, Father, I love You!

Lord, there are many governments and nations that are in need of miracles, today. Immediately, my mind and heart are drawn to Haiti and Afghanistan, as well as the area affected by the recent devastation of Hurricane Ida. I pray for Your presence to be strong in those areas. Move Your available people to rise up and work on behalf of the suffering and oppressed. And show us, who are not in a position to help directly, how we can help remotely, if possible, by some other means than “thoughts and prayers.” But if praying is all we can do, then may Your Spirit enable us to pray with all of our might, that You might hear us.

"God on the move,
teach me how a reckless disobedience originates in mere lack of trust.
Forgive my unbelief that I prefer to call prudence,
my fear that's often masked as good sense.
You call Your church on a world-transforming mission;
give me the eyes of faith to trust You and follow in fearless obedience.
In Jesus' name,
amen."

BLESSING

God doesn’t want us to be shy with his gifts, but bold and loving and sensible.
(2 Timothy 1:7 MSG)

We, though, are going to love—love and be loved. First we were loved, now we love. He loved us first.
(1 John 4:19 MSG)

I pray for peace in our nation, peace in our world. I pray for racial injustice to end, and I pray for the pandemic to be over. Above all else, though, I pray for Your will to be done, on earth as it is in heaven. For Yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise.
(Hebrews 10:23 NLT)

Grace and peace, friends.

Blessing

Today is Tuesday, the thirty-first of August, 2021. Last day of August. And just in case anyone wonders, there still twenty-two days of summer left.

Shalom Aleichem!

Day 23,182

Six days until Labor Day.

It still feels like summer, in DFW, too, with temps soaring to the upper nineties every day this week, and no rain in the ten-day forecast.

Today is We Love Memoirs Day, which is fitting, because I just finished one, yesterday, and you can see the review of Willie Nelson’s Letters to America on my other blog by clicking here.

The word for today is gorgonize, a verb which means, “hypnotize; petrify.” “She felt trapped and totally helpless in his gorgonizing stare.” Wouldn’t that be an adverb in that context? What do I know?

Today’s quote, from Arthur C. Clark, is one that I love and believe I have used before. “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” It’s true, right? Seriously, anyone from a primitive culture (and they do still exist on this planet) who saw the things we do with computers would only be able to assume that we were engaging in sorcery.

Birthdays for August 30:

Lizzie Arlington, the first woman to play men's professional baseball, 1877-1919
Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands, 1880-1962. The state park and lodge in Mena, Arkansas are named after her, because many of the original investors were Dutch.
Buddy Hackett, actor in The Music Man, 1924-2003
Frank Robinson, HOF baseball player and manager, 1935-2019
Roger Dean, album cover illustrator for Yes, 77 years old today
Van Morrison, singer-songwriter from Northern Ireland, turns 76 today
Roger Dean album cover illustration

I’ve officially gotten my work schedule, which will be effective after the beginning of October, assuming the city goes ahead with plans to open the library on Fridays. It will look like this:

Every Tuesday: 4:15PM-8:15PM
Alternating Wednesdays: 9:15AM-6:15PM
Every Friday: 9:15AM-6:15PM
Alternating Saturdays: 9:30AM-6:15PM

So, based on the city’s work week, which begins on Friday and ends on the following Thursday (makes my head hurt trying to figure this out), I will work Friday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, followed by Friday, Saturday, and Tuesday. I actually like this better than my current schedule, which has me working Saturday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, followed by Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. When you break it down like that, it looks fine (and I am NOT complaining, here), but if you look at the calendar week, I have weeks like this week where I am working Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, as well as Saturday, which falls in the next pay week. So I’m actually working four calendar days, this week, and only two next week (Tuesday and Wednesday).

Like I said . . . if you think about it too hard, it makes your head hurt. I get twenty hours per pay week, but it looks like I’m actually working twenty-eight hours in this calendar week and only twelve hours next week.

Today, I’m working 11:15AM-8:15PM, and will be training in the computer center for the first time.

C is getting ready for her surgery on Thursday. She works from home today, and tomorrow will be the last day at the office for anywhere from four to six weeks (mid October, sometime), but may be able to work from home after two or three weeks, depending on how the recovery is progressing.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Glory to You, Lord God of our fathers;
You are worthy of praise;
glory to You.
Glory to You for the radiance of Your holy Name;
we will praise You and highly exalt You for ever.
Glory to You in the splendor of Your temple;
on the throne of Your majesty, glory to You.
Glory to You, seated between the Cherubim;
we will praise You and highly exalt You for ever.
Glory to You, beholding the depths;
in the high vault of heaven, glory to You.
Glory to You, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit;
we will praise You and highly exalt You for ever.
(TeDeum)

Oh, that I had wings like a dove; then I would fly away and rest! I would fly far away to the quiet of the wilderness. How quickly I would escape—far from this wild storm of hatred.
(Psalms 55:6-8 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

1. that, in spite of the "wild storm of hatred" outside, You still have things firmly in hand
2. that You give me quiet and rest during these times in my own home; I don't have to fly away to some distant place
3. for Your blessing upon us
4. for Your face being turned toward us
5. for the call to be peacemakers, and the peace with which You gift us

Scriptures and Prayers from Seeking God’s Face: Praying with the Bible through the Year

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK FIFTEEN – DAY THREE

INVITATION

I will give thanks to you, O Lord, among the peoples; I will sing praises to you among the nations. For your steadfast love is great to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds.
(Psalms 57:9-10 ESV)

During this moment of peace and quiet, I pause to simply reflect on the presence of the Lord, with me at all times, in all places.

BIBLE SONG

For the director of music. With stringed instruments. Of David.

Hear my cry, O God; listen to my prayer.

From the ends of the earth I call to you, I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I. For you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the foe.

I long to dwell in your tent forever and take refuge in the shelter of your wings. For you, God, have heard my vows; you have given me the heritage of those who fear your name.

Increase the days of the king’s life, his years for many generations. May he be enthroned in God’s presence forever; appoint your love and faithfulness to protect him.

Then I will ever sing in praise of your name and fulfill my vows day after day.
(Psalms 61:1-8 NIV)

BIBLE READING

The LORD said to Moses, “Tell Aaron and his sons, ‘This is how you are to bless the Israelites. Say to them:
“‘”The LORD bless you
and keep you;
the LORD make his face shine on you and
be gracious to you;
the LORD turn his face toward you
and give you peace.”‘
“So they will put my name on the Israelites, and I will bless them.”
(Numbers 6:22-27 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I remind myself that I am always in God’s presence, I linger over these passages, allowing the Holy Spirit to move within my soul, guiding my thoughts, meditations, and prayers.

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.
(Psalms 19:14 ESV)

These are two great passages, full of depth and encouragement.

The prayer of David is one that I am fully persuaded that God stands ready to answer.

We can cry out to God “from the ends of the earth.” It matters not where we are, He is there. It matters not when we are, He is there! Consider that our Father is currently present when you were born. He is “omnipresent,” with us at all times and all places. Therefore, He stands ready to hear us, no matter where we are.

Where is the “rock that is higher than I?” There can be various interpretations of this. I tend to see this “Rock” as Jesus. Matthew Henry, however, visualizes this rock as a place he cannot attain without the assistance of our God. I can equally see this as being true, as in the old hymn, Higher Ground.

I’m pressing on the upward way,
New heights I’m gaining every day;
Still praying as I’m onward bound,
“Lord, plant my feet on higher ground."

Refrain:
Lord, lift me up and let me stand,
By faith, on Heaven’s tableland,
A higher plane than I have found;
Lord, plant my feet on higher ground.

My heart has no desire to stay
Where doubts arise and fears dismay;
Though some may dwell where those abound,
My prayer, my aim, is higher ground.

I want to live above the world,
Though Satan’s darts at me are hurled;
For faith has caught the joyful sound,
The song of saints on higher ground.

I want to scale the utmost height
And catch a gleam of glory bright;
But still I’ll pray till heav’n I’ve found,
“Lord, plant my feet on higher ground."

There’s another hymn, though, that speaks of the “Solid Rock,” being Jesus.

In times like these you need a Savior
In times like these you need an anchor
Be very sure, be very sure
Your anchor holds and grips the Solid Rock!

Refrain:
This Rock is Jesus, Yes He's the One
This Rock is Jesus, the only One
Be very sure, be very sure
Your anchor holds and grips the Solid Rock!

In times like these you need the Bible
In times like these, O be not idle
Be very sure, be very sure
Your anchor holds and grips the Solid Rock!

In times like these I have a Savior
In times like these I have an anchor
I'm very sure, I'm very sure
My anchor holds and grips the Solid Rock!

What a longing is expressed in verse 4: “I long to dwell in Your tent forever and take refuge in the shelter of Your wings.” This is a sentiment that is expressed many times in the Psalms. And I can most certainly echo the prayer, as my heart grows more and more in its longing for Home. Doesn’t mean that I don’t like my life, here, but just means that I know where I belong, ultimately.

I believe that this prayerful psalm goes hand-in-hand with the blessing seen in Numbers 6. Such a beautiful passage that I have adopted as prayers for people for a long time, now. And I like it in many different versions. I have sort of “tweaked” it, combining a couple of my favorite versions to make it go like this:

May God bless you and keep you;
May He smile on you and gift you;
May He look you full in the face and give you peace.

The majority of that comes from The Message, but Peterson ends his with “and make you prosper,” and I would rather have it say “give you peace.” Prosperity is not my goal, here.

I pray this blessing over people when I see that it is their birthday. We frequently end our worship gatherings by either saying or singing the blessing. There are several contemporary songs that incorporate it. Matt Redman has a good one:

Then this one, more recently, from Kari Jobe and Cody Carnes (video is long, but powerful):

My favorite part of the blessing is the line that speaks of the Lord turning His face towards us. It gets translated “lift up His countenance toward you,” “look you full in the face,” “turn His face toward you,” and “show you His favor.”

The lowest point in the life of Jesus was when His Father turned His face away from Him, resulting in the cry of Jesus, “My God, my God, why have You forsaken me??”

I am moved to tears, this very moment, as I try to imagine what it must have felt like for this ripping of personalities apart. Jesus, God incarnate, experienced a tearing like none of us will ever experience, couldn’t possibly even imagine. For those few hours, on that day, there was a rift in the Holy Trinity, that perfect fellowship which had existed for all eternity. The Father turned His back on the Son, because He cannot look upon sin. The Son, for that moment, took on all the sin that had ever been committed, and ever would be committed. According to the Apostle Paul, who wrote the majority of the New Testament, at that moment, Jesus became sin!

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
(2 Corinthians 5:21 ESV)

So, today, I pray for you, whoever happens to stumble upon this humble blog, and manages to read this far.

May the Lord bless you and keep you; may He smile on you and gift you; may He look you full in the face, make His face shine upon you, turn His face toward you, show you His favor . . . and give you peace!

Father, I am overwhelmed, this morning. There are tears in my eyes as I try to type this. This famous blessing is so appropriate to be prayed for all of Your people, today. It is even appropriate to pray over people who don’t know You or refuse to acknowledge You. I would ask You to make Your face to shine upon people all over the world, so that they might prosper and have Your peace in their lives. After all, Your Word does say that You show favor on the just and the unjust, alike. People who have never once acknowledged Your existence still reap the benefits of that existence, whether they know it or not. And I believe, with all my heart, that, deep down inside, they do know it.

May Your Holy Spirit fill us, today, Father. Fill us with Your presence, Your peace, Your blessing. Send us out to wherever we need to go, with Your Gospel of peace fitted on our feet. Peace. That is the key word in all of this. Make us peacemakers in this world, not rabble-rousers, not dividers. “Blessed are the peacemakers,” said Jesus. Lead us, O God, to the Rock that is higher than we are. Help us up to those heights which we cannot reach on our own.

I pray for the call to follow You out into those workplaces and neighborhoods, Lord, and I pray for the peace and well-being of those workplaces and communities. May You rain down Your special blessing on those who work in agriculture, who provide food and sustenance for us.

"May I see Your face, God?
For to live with Your face turned from me is more bitter than death.
I thank You that in this ancient blessing, 
I may place my life in the grace of Jesus and catch sight of Your face turned in delight toward me.
Amen."

BLESSING

for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.
(2 Timothy 1:7 ESV)

Blessed is the one who fears the LORD always, but whoever hardens his heart will fall into calamity.
(Proverbs 28:14 ESV)

Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin! For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment.
(Psalms 51:2-4 ESV)

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
(1 John 1:9 ESV)

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.
(Jeremiah 29:11 ESV)

Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes.
(Ephesians 1:4 NLT)

For God saved us and called us to live a holy life. He did this, not because we deserved it, but because that was his plan from before the beginning of time—to show us his grace through Christ Jesus.
(2 Timothy 1:9 NLT)

There is a Hebrew word in that Jeremiah verse. “Makhashabah,” which means “texture,” a sort of “weaving” of a plan together. It’s the word that is translated “plans” in the ESV, and other translations, but “thoughts” in the KJV and WEB. Here’s the KJV.

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.
(Jeremiah 29:11 KJV)

“Thoughts” is the Hebrew makhashabah, while “think” is “chashab,” which literally means to weave or to fabricate.

So just as it is impossible to see what the weaver on the loom is fabricating until she is finished with the work, so it is not possible to see what the Lord is doing with our lives until He is finished. We need to trust in the truth that He knows what He is doing. He is weaving a perfect work, and “all things work together for good” in our lives.

Father, I praise You for this truth. And in this weaving, I wonder how much our prayers effect things. In light of that, and in that spirit, I ask of You to end this plague on our world. Please do away with the COVID-19 virus, once and for all, that we might have peace in our world and in our nation. We are unable to come together to fight this. We are too concerned with our own “freedoms” and “rights.” Please eradicate this. I believe that You can do this. I also pray for the racial strife to end, that all people, in Your Kingdom, will be treated equally. Oh, how look forward to seeing that multitude described in Revelation, of people from every tribe, nation, and tongue, praising Your Holy and majestic Name as one!

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

May the LORD bless you and protect you.
May the LORD smile on you and be gracious to you.
May the LORD show you his favor and give you his peace.
(Numbers 6:24-26 NLT)

Grace and peace, friends.

Rewards of Obedience

Today is Monday, the thirtieth of August, 2021.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,181

Seven days until Labor Day

Today will be my first Monday at the library. How is Monday different than the other days? I guess I’ll find out. I know one thing that will be different. I believe that somewhere around 10:30, story time happens for all the children that come. That won’t necessarily affect me, since I will likely still be working in circulation. Unless all those children decide they want to check out books when it’s over.

I work from 9:15-6:15 today, opening to closing. Actually, the library doesn’t open until 10:00, but we show up early to get everything prepared. The biggest task for Monday morning (I’m not sure since I haven’t worked one, yet) will probably be unloading the outside book drop, all of the books that were returned between closing Saturday and this morning.

I do like how they work the schedule in circulation, though. Working an eight-hour shift doesn’t mean sitting at the front desk all day. We rotate from there to other tasks, such as processing new patron hold requests, clearing the inside book drop, and other things.

I didn’t sleep well at all last night. I felt anxiety, probably for the first time since my new job started. I don’t think the anxiety was about the job, as I still consider it to be the best job I’ve ever had. More likely, it all revolves around everything going on this week, the biggest thing being C’s back surgery on Thursday. There is also the uncertainty of not knowing which day she will be released from the surgery center, and we won’t know that until they see how she is progressing.

I’ve also put on a few pounds since retirement started. Not a huge amount, but enough that my new pants were tight last Wednesday, which scared me a little bit. So part of my anxiety may have been about that. But the good news is that I am about three or four pounds down from last Monday morning, And I’m about two pounds down from last Wednesday.

Anxiety is foolish, it’s true. Worry does no good, whatsoever. In fact, it only does the opposite of good. But it is what it is. And it is difficult to overcome. The thing to remember about everything that is going on this week is, “this, too, shall pass.”

Today is Grief Awareness Day. For those of us who grieve, and honestly, that should be most people, we find that the saying that “time heals all wounds” is a lie. Some of those wounds will never heal. If you have lost a loved one, a parent, or even worse, a child (I say that’s worse, because children should never pass before their parents), or, perhaps, a sibling or best friend, you know that the grief can hit you, without warning, on any day, during any circumstance. During my life, I’ve lost all of my grandparents, my father, and a best friend. I miss my grandparents, but the worst grief, of course, is for my dad. But then there’s the grief that will creep up out of nowhere for that friend who took his own life back in 1975.

People who suffer grief do not need clever, pithy sayings. Nor do they need advice. What they need is someone to simply be there for them, give them a hug when the grief strikes, or just listen to them talk about the memories they have with that person (or even a beloved pet, perhaps).

The word for today is nostrum, a noun, meaning, “a scheme, theory, device, etc., especially one to remedy social or political ills; panacea.” “The party was pushing the nostrum of corporate tax reduction, as if that would undo decades of industrial job loss.” It seems that that is the second definition, the first being, “a medicine sold with false or exaggerated claims and with no demonstrable value; quack medicine.”

Today’s quote is from Eric Hoffer (American moral and social philosopher): “It is easier to love humanity as a whole than to love one’s neighbor.” I believe he has a good point, there.

I’m changing the way I “celebrate” birthdays. It takes too long the way I’ve been doing it, so I’m only going to highlight one or two (maybe three or four) that I’m actually quite familiar with or fond of. The link remains the same every day, as I get my information from On This Day. Remember that the link will give you the birthdays on whatever day you happen to be clicking on it, not necessarily the date I am looking at.

Author Mary Shelley (Frankenstein): 1797-1851
Actress Joan Blondell: 1906-1979 (my second grade teacher may or may not have been related to her)
Ted Williams, possibly the greatest hitter to have ever played baseball: 1918-2002
Ernie Ball (guitar strings): 1930-2004
Ted Williams’s last day at Fenway Park.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Sacred Soaking, by Daryl Madden (My desire every morning)

Graced within Your Presence
Such mysteries we find
In the sacred soaking
Of Your light divine

Heaven flows within us
Of permeating prayer
For every breath we draw
Is of holy air

One of contemplation
Love within so freeing
And in this becoming
We’re a blessed being

In this transformation
Of gifting to prepare
To go into this world
With His Word to share

I will sacrifice a voluntary offering to you; I will praise your name, O LORD, for it is good. For you have rescued me from my troubles and helped me to triumph over my enemies.
(Psalms 54:6-7 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the holy air that is in my lungs, for every breath that I draw comes from You
2. that You will get us through this week
3. that with You (and only You) we can be victorious over our enemies (which are spiritual, not human)
4. for Your help in teaching me to love You and love people
5. for Jesus; for everything He is, everything He provides, and everything He teaches; may I follow Him with all my heart
6. that You hear our voices when we cry out to You

Scriptures and Prayers from Seeking God’s Face: Praying with the Bible through the Year

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK FIFTEEN – DAY TWO

INVITATION

I will thank you, Lord, among all the people. I will sing your praises among the nations. For your unfailing love is as high as the heavens. Your faithfulness reaches to the clouds.
(Psalms 57:9-10 NLT)

The house is quiet, the room peaceful. I contemplate Your help in life, as You rescue me from troubles and help me to triumph over my “enemies.” I remember that my enemies are not flesh and blood, but things like apathy, anger, lust, and envy.

BIBLE SONG

For the director of music. To the tune of “The Lily of the Covenant.” A miktam of David. For teaching. When he fought Aram Naharaim and Aram Zobah, and when Joab returned and struck down twelve thousand Edomites in the Valley of Salt.

You have rejected us, God, and burst upon us; you have been angry—now restore us! You have shaken the land and torn it open; mend its fractures, for it is quaking. You have shown your people desperate times; you have given us wine that makes us stagger. But for those who fear you, you have raised a banner to be unfurled against the bow.

Is it not you, God, you who have now rejected us and no longer go out with our armies? Give us aid against the enemy, for human help is worthless. With God we will gain the victory, and he will trample down our enemies.
(Psalms 60:1-4, 10-12 NIV)

BIBLE READING

“‘Do not make idols or set up an image or a sacred stone for yourselves, and do not place a carved stone in your land to bow down before it. I am the LORD your God.
“‘Observe my Sabbaths and have reverence for my sanctuary. I am the LORD.
“‘If you follow my decrees and are careful to obey my commands, I will send you rain in its season, and the ground will yield its crops and the trees their fruit. Your threshing will continue until grape harvest and the grape harvest will continue until planting, and you will eat all the food you want and live in safety in your land.
“‘I will put my dwelling place among you, and I will not abhor you. I will walk among you and be your God, and you will be my people. I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt so that you would no longer be slaves to the Egyptians; I broke the bars of your yoke and enabled you to walk with heads held high.'”
(Leviticus 26:1-5,11-13 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

“Read again, perhaps out loud . . . how has God’s Word moved you? Ponder and meditate what has connected with your heart or mind . . . pray to God what it is that has moved you today . . . turn your thoughts to God and quietly enjoy being with Him.”

In spite of the circumstances, it is the banner of God “unfurled against the bow” that gives us hope and confidence. Even if we are in a situation where we feel like God has not gone out with us, or has rejected us . . . even in the most hopeless of situations, we recognize that “human help is worthless!” We have the utmost confidence that “with God we will gain the victory.”

Once again, I declare that my “enemies” are not flesh and blood. This is a mistake that is being made all over our nation, right now. Brothers and sisters in Christ, fighting with one another, as if they are each other’s enemies! God have mercy. “Human help is worthless!” We must stop depending on humans to help us. Only God can provide the victory, because our enemies are spiritual and require spiritual intervention.

The rewards of following God’s commands in the Leviticus passage are magnificent. Rain will fall; crops will be plentiful; His people will have their fill to eat and live in safety. Even better, He says, “I will put my dwelling place among you . . . I will walk among you and be your God.”

And what are His commands, today? Some may insist that nothing has changed and that we are to follow the Big Ten. But we must remember . . . Jesus summarized those with two commands.

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
(Matthew 22:37-40 NIV)

Love God; love people.

He did add that third one, a little later, specifically to His disciples.

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
(John 13:34-35 NIV)

Father, I look at my own life and see that I don’t do a great job obeying these commands. I feel like I do better than I used to do, but still, there is much room for improvement, especially in that part about loving people. And that quote from that philosopher up there is spot on. It is much easier to “love humanity” than it is to love my neighbor. Because loving my neighbor requires me to get down and dirty with him. It requires real interaction, and with someone I might not otherwise get along with. Help me to remember that these commands are not negotiable, and that my opinions about things are not part of the job description. I ask You, Father, to give me true love for all people, those closest to me, and those farthest away from me; those I like, and those I don’t like so much. And as for my brothers and sisters in Christ, help me to love them deeply they way You have loved us, sacrificially and selflessly.

"Generous God,
I sometimes don't know how to handle the rewards You offer.
Dare me to believe that like a parent moved by the loving obedience of a child,
You give rewards out of delight in a life changed by grace.
And like a child,
help me to simply open my hands and receive Your goodness.
Amen."

BLESSING

For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.
(2 Timothy 1:7 NLT)

I love the LORD, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy.
(Psalms 116:1 NIV)

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.
(Romans 12:1 NIV)

Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God.
(Ephesians 5:1-2 NLT)

Thank You, God, for hearing my cry for mercy. Teach me to offer myself as a “living sacrifice,” that I might be holy and pleasing to You. Help me to imitate You, today, and to live a life filled with love, following the example of Jesus.

I pray for peace in our nation, peace in our world. I pray for racial injustice to end, and I pray for the pandemic to be over. Above all else, though, I pray for Your will to be done, on earth as it is in heaven. For Yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.
(Isaiah 41:10 NLT)

Grace and peace, friends.

Take It Seriously

Today is Sunday, the twenty-ninth of August, 2021.

Shalom Aleichem!

Day 23,180

Eight days until Labor Day

This will be a challenging week, but I’m up for the challenge.

I’m working Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday (total of twenty hours) at the library. Thursday, C has back surgery at 9:30 in the morning. We have to have her at the surgery center by 7:30. She will have either a one night or two night stay over at the surgery center.

Friday, Cleopatra (Siamese kitten) is getting spayed. For the record, this was scheduled before the back surgery, but since C will be staying at the surgery center for at least one night, this is not a problem at all. I will drop Cleo off between 7:15-7:30, and, if C is getting to come home on Friday, I can head over there and wait for the many hours it takes them to process her release.

I’m supposed to work at the library on Saturday, eight hours, but if C doesn’t get to come home until Saturday, I won’t be able to work the full day. Both my direct manager and the circulation manager are aware of this possibility, and seem more than willing to be flexible with me on this. Fortunately, I’m not scheduled the following Monday at the library, so I will have a couple days to recover from all this.

C will be off work for at least three to four weeks, but may be able to work from home after three weeks. It may be six weeks before she is recovered enough to go to the office. For this reason, as previously mentioned, we elected to cancel our Galveston trip for this year. We may, however, and I have not discussed this with her, try to grab a few nights in Glen Rose, on a week when I’m off for a few consecutive days.

We went bowling, yesterday, and had a great time! It was fun to bowl at the center where C works. There was only one other person bowling, so it was pretty quiet. After we finished, we stopped by their pro shop to have a ball plugged and re-drilled for me. It was C’s ball, but she doesn’t use it any more, and I like it, so the pro will plug the thumb hole and move it to fit my grip. He only has to drill out the fingers and put inserts into those holes.

Today, we have our church gathering, but we are continuing to Zoom for now.

Today is Pony Express Day, celebrating those brave souls who risked their lives to deliver the mail, “back in the day.”

The word for today is memoriter. In adverb form, this means, “by heart; by memory.” “There are certain subjects of study, which must, of course, be learned memoriter.”

Today’s quote is from Plato: “Thinking: the talking of the soul with itself.”

Birthdays for August 29:

1632 John Locke, English empiricist philosopher; influential Enlightenment thinker and "Father of Liberalism" (Two Treatises of Government), born in Wrington, England (d. 1704)
1809 Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr., American physician and author (Old Ironsides), born in Cambridge, Massachusetts (d. 1894)
1811 Henry Bergh, Founder of American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), born in NYC, New York (d. 1888)
1906 Lurene Tuttle, American actress (Father of Bride, Julia), born in Pleasant Lake, Indiana (d. 1986)
1915 Ingrid Bergman, Swedish actress (Casablanca, Cactus Flower), born in Stockholm, Sweden (d. 1982)
1916 George Montgomery, American actor (Battle of Bulge, Hallucination), born in Brady, Montana (d. 2000)
1917 Isabel Sanford, American actress (Louise-Jeffersons/All in the Family), born in NYC, New York (d. 2004)
1920 Charlie "Bird" Parker, American jazz saxophonist ("Ornithology"), born in Kansas City, Kansas (d. 1955)
1923 Richard Attenborough, English actor and director (Gandhi, Jurassic Park, Young Winston), born in Cambridge, England (d. 2014)
1926 Elizabeth "Betty" Lynn, American actress (The Andy Griffith Show--Thelma Lou), born in Kansas City, Missouri
1936 John McCain, American war hero and Republican politician (Rep-Arizona, 1983-2018, Presidential nominee 2008), born in Coco Solo, Panama Canal Zone (d. 2018)
1938 Elliott Gould, American actor (M*A*S*H, Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice), born in Queens, New York
1939 Joel Schumacher, American film director (Lost Boys, Batman), born in New York City (d. 2020)
1940 James Brady, U.S. press secretary (wounded during Reagan assassin attempt), born in Centralia, Illinois (d. 2014)
1941 Robin Leach, English TV host (Life Styles of Rich & Famous), born in London, England (2018)
1942 Sterling Morrison, American rock guitarist (Velvet Underground - "Sweet Jane"), born in East Meadow, New York (d. 1995)
1943 Dick Halligan, American jazz multi-instrumentalist, composer and arranger (Blood Sweat & Tears, 1967-72 - "Variations On A Theme By Erik Satie"), born in Troy, New York
1945 Chris Copping, British rock bassist and organist (Procol Harum, 1969-77), born in Middleton, Lancashire, England
1947 Temple Grandin, American animal welfare and autism expert, born in Boston, Massachusetts
1953 Rick Downey, American rock drummer and vocalist (Blue Oyster Cult, 1981-85)
1953 Speedy Gonzales, Warner Bros. cartoon character created by Chuck Jones and Michael Maltese (Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies series), first debuts in "Cat-Tails for Two"
1958 Michael Jackson, American recording artist, dancer, and King of Pop ("Thriller"; Billie Jean"; "Bad"), born in Gary, Indiana (d. 2009)
1959 Rebecca De Mornay, American actress (Hand that Rocks Cradle), born in Santa Rosa, California
1963 Elizabeth Fraser, Scottish singer (Cocteau Twins - "Heaven OR Las Vegas"), born in Grangemouth, Scotland
1971 Carla Gugino, American actress, born in Sarasota, Florida
1975 Kyle Cook, American rock guitarist, and banjo player (Matchbox Twenty - "Bent"; "Unwell"), born in Frankfort, Kentucky
1980 David Desrosiers, Canadian rock bassist (Simple Plan, 2000-20), born in Montreal, Quebec
1986 Lea Michele [Sarfati], American actress and singer (Glee), born in The Bronx, New York

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

He Himself is my contemplation;
He is my delight.
Him for His own sake
I seek above me;
from Him Himself I feed within me.
He is the field in which I labour.
He is the fruit for which I labour.
He is my cause;
He is my effect.
He is my beginning;
He is my end without end.
He is, for me, eternity.
(Isaac of Stella)

But God is my helper. The Lord keeps me alive!
(Psalms 54:4 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

1. that I am alive and breathing
2. that You are my helper
3. for Your great love that reaches to the heavens, and Your faithfulness that reaches to the skies
4. that You are my strength and my fortress, and I can sing to You, regardless of my circumstances
5. for peace

Scriptures and Prayers from Seeking God’s Face: Praying with the Bible through the Year

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK FIFTEEN – DAY ONE

INVITATION

I will praise you, Lord, among the nations; I will sing of you among the peoples. For great is your love, reaching to the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the skies.
(Psalms 57:9-10 NIV)

During this quiet moment, I contemplate the great love and faithfulness of the Lord, which reaches to the heavens. This is a poetic way of saying that His love and faithfulness know no limits.

BIBLE SONG

For the director of music. To the tune of “Do Not Destroy.” Of David. A miktam. When Saul had sent men to watch David’s house in order to kill him.

Deliver me from my enemies, O God; be my fortress against those who are attacking me. Deliver me from evildoers and save me from those who are after my blood.

See how they lie in wait for me! Fierce men conspire against me for no offense or sin of mine, LORD.

They return at evening, snarling like dogs, and prowl about the city. They wander about for food and howl if not satisfied. But I will sing of your strength, in the morning I will sing of your love; for you are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble.

You are my strength, I sing praise to you; you, God, are my fortress, my God on whom I can rely.
(Psalms 59:1-3, 14-17 NIV)

BIBLE READING

Aaron’s sons Nadab and Abihu took their censers, put fire in them and added incense; and they offered unauthorized fire before the LORD, contrary to his command. So fire came out from the presence of the LORD and consumed them, and they died before the LORD. Moses then said to Aaron, “This is what the LORD spoke of when he said:
“‘Among those who approach me I will be proved holy; in the sight of all the people I will be honored.'” Aaron remained silent.
Then the LORD said to Aaron, “You and your sons are not to drink wine or other fermented drink whenever you go into the tent of meeting, or you will die. This is a lasting ordinance for the generations to come, so that you can distinguish between the holy and the common, between the unclean and the clean, and so you can teach the Israelites all the decrees the LORD has given them through Moses.”
(Leviticus 10:1-3, 8-11 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I continue to be aware of the presence of the Lord, I linger over these passages, meditating over their truths and contemplating what speaks to me, this morning.

In the passage from Psalm 59, I see the truth that, no matter what circumstances are facing me, whether it be enemies, snarling like dogs, or a really busy, challenging week ahead, which includes mildly risky surgery on a loved one, I can sing of the strength and the love of the Lord, for He is my fortress and my refuge, regardless of the circumstances in front of me.

In the passage from Leviticus 10, I see a grave warning in the consequences suffered by Nadab and Abihu. This is stressed in what the Lord said to Moses, “Among those who approach me I will be proved holy; in the sight of all the people I will be honored.”

This tells me that we should never approach our God in a manner that is glib or aloof. Not to say that God doesn’t have a sense of humor. I certainly believe He does, and I believe that Jesus laughed much. However, when we come before God, bringing offerings, sacrifices, or worship, we must take it seriously, and we must examine both ourselves, as well as the attitude behind our offerings. I also can’t help but wonder, based on the Lord’s instruction in verses 8-11, if Nadab and Abihu might have been drunk when they acted the way they did. Just something to ponder.

Father, I praise You for Your strength, for Your love and faithfulness, which know no limits. Your grace exceeds all of our sin and our guilt, not only in the past, but what I might do today, and going forward into the future. Such magnificent grace, Father! Such marvelous mercy, strength, and faithfulness. Thank You for being my refuge and my fortress, where I can hide and take strength for whatever is facing me. Help us to take You more seriously when we bring offerings to You, whether they be physical offerings or sacrifices of praise and thanksgiving. Let us not be glib or aloof when approaching You.

I pray for the risen Christ to dwell richly in my heart, bringing spiritual renewal and refreshment into me, by the Holy Spirit.

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Your Name. May Your kingdom come, and Your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil; for Yours are the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.

"Holy God,
how do I worship you without getting killed?
How do I live with you and not be undone?
Keep me from a paralyzing fear of your holiness and justice,
as well as from a breezy chumminess.
To you,
mercy-filled and mighty,
just and gentle God,
I offer everything I think,
say,
or do as a pleasing sacrifice to your glory and honor.
Amen."

BLESSING

For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.
(2 Timothy 1:7 NIV)

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.
(James 1:27 NIV)

The LORD watches over the foreigner and sustains the fatherless and the widow, but he frustrates the ways of the wicked.
(Psalms 146:9 NIV)

Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.
(Isaiah 1:17 NIV)

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’ “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”
(Matthew 25:40-46 NIV)

I pray for peace in our nation, peace in our world. I pray for racial injustice to end, and I pray for the pandemic to be over. Above all else, though, I pray for Your will to be done, on earth as it is in heaven. For Yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?
(Micah 6:8 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

Silence

Today is Saturday, the twenty-eighth of August, 2021.

May the peace of God reign in your life today.

Day 23,179

Nine days until Labor Day

Today is Rainbow Bridge Remembrance Day. I’ve never learned why it is popularly called the “rainbow bridge,” but that’s the common terminology used when a beloved pet passes away. Since we have recently experienced this (Tessie – dog) I chose this “holiday” to recognize today. If you have recently lost a beloved fur-baby, my heart goes out to you, today.

The word for today is cruciverbalist, a noun which designates “a designer or aficionado of crossword puzzles.”

Today’s quote, from Lao Tzu, is, “To see things in the seed, that is genius.”

Birthdays for August 28:

1749 Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, German writer and social philosopher (Faust), born in Frankfurt am Main, Holy Roman Empire (d. 1832)
1774 Elizabeth Ann Bayley Seton, 1st American Catholic saint (1975), born in NYC, New York (d. 1821)
1831 Lucy Ware Webb Hayes, 1st lady of the United States (1877-81), born in Chillicothe, Ohio (d. 1889)
1840 Ira D. Sankey, American evangelist, composer and singer (Gospel hymns), born in Edinburg, Pennsylvania (d. 1908)
1916 Jack [Holbrook] Vance, American sci-fi author (2 Hugo, Dirdir, Pnume), born in San Francisco, California (d. 2013)
1917 Jack Kirby, American cartoonist (X-Men; Spider-Man; Hulk; Captain America), born in NYC, New York (d. 1994)
1921 Nancy Kulp, American actress (The Beverly Hillbillies - Jane Hathaway, The Aristocats, Shane), born in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania (d. 1991)
1925 Donald O'Connor, American dancer and actor (Singin' in the Rain), born in Chicago, Illinois (d. 2003)
1930 Ben Gazzara, American actor (Run for Your Life, QB VII), born in NYC, New York (d. 2012)
1939 [Catherine] Cassie Mackin, American newswoman (NBC TV) and 1st woman to regularly anchor an evening network newscast alone, born in Baltimore, Maryland (d. 1982)
1943 David Soul [Solberg], American-British actor (Starsky & Hutch) and singer (Don't Give Up On Us), born in Chicago, Illinois
1943 Lou Piniella, American baseball outfielder (1969 AL rookie of the year TEST) and manager (NY Yankees, Seattle Mariners), born in Tampa, Florida
1948 Daniel "Danny" Seraphine, American rock drummer (Chicago, 1969-90 - "25 or 6 to 4"), born in Chicago, Illinois
1948 Vonda N. McIntyre, American sci-fi author (Star Trek II, III, IV), born in Louisville, Kentucky
1950 Ron Guidry, Yankee pitcher (Cy Young 1978), born in Lafayette, Louisiana
1951 Wayne Osmond, American singer (Osmond Brothers, Donnie & Marie), born in Ogden, Utah
1956 Luis Guzmán, Puerto Rican actor (The Limey), born in Cayey, Puerto Rico
1957 Daniel Stern, American actor (City Slickers, Wonder Years), born in Stamford, Connecticut
1958 Scott Hamilton, American figure skater (Olympic gold 1984), born in Bowling Green, Ohio
1960 Emma [Elizabeth Wylie Samuelson] Samms, British actress (Colby's, General Hospital), born in London, England
1965 Shania Twain, Canadian singer (You're Still the One), born in Windsor Ontario
1969 Jason Priestley, Canadian-American actor (Brandon-Beverly Hills 90210), born in Vancouver, British Columbia
1969 Mary McCartney, English photographer and daughter of Beatle Paul and Linda McCartney, born in London
1969 Jack Black, American actor (High Fidelity, Kung Fu Panda), comedian and singer (Tenacious D), born in Santa Monica, California
1971 Todd Eldredge, American figure skater (1996 World champion and a six-time U.S. national champion), born in Chatham, Massachusetts
1982 LeAnn Rimes [Margaret LeAnn Rimes Cibrian], American country singer (Blue), born in Jackson, Mississippi
1985 James Jagger, American actor (Vinyl) and son of Mick Jagger & Jerry Hall, born in NYC, New York
1986 Florence Welch, British blues and swing jazz singer (Florence and the Machine), born in London, England
1986 Armand "Armie" Hammer, American actor, born in Santa Monica, California
Lou Piniella, 78 years old today
Danny Seraphine, original drummer, 73 years old today

So, what’s up for today? C and I have decided to get out of the house and do something today, and it looks like we’re going to go up to where she works and go bowling. Apparently, because she pays a small amount per paycheck to use the workout room, she also has access to the bowling lanes anytime there is open bowling. We thought about doing some geocaching, but it’s going to be pretty warm today, around 93 degrees. And I’m sure there is probably an orange ozone alert or something.

The grocery order will be ready to pick up at 11:00, so we will probably get those picked up, have some lunch, and then head over to the IBC (International Bowling Campus, not root beer).

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Where Are My Thoughts, by Daryl Madden

A question to ponder
Throughout our day
Where are my thoughts?
Am I living astray?

Are they lost in?
What I must do
Thinking of goals
I need to pursue

Are they consumed?
Of threats, I’m aware
Is my view of dwelling
From a place of fear

Let’s be of this moment
Our thoughts to profess
To see, smell and feel
The ways we are blessed

Let me be absorbed
In what I sense here
When it’s of Gods’ Presence
It’s a living prayer

It is good to be aware of our thoughts, throughout the day. My prayer, though, is that I be absorbed in God’s Presence, for the next few minutes.

But I am like an olive tree, thriving in the house of God. I will always trust in God’s unfailing love.
I will praise you forever, O God, for what you have done. I will trust in your good name in the presence of your faithful people.
(Psalms 52:8-9 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

1. for You
2. for Your presence in this place
3. for the hope that I can be like that olive tree and thrive in Your house
4. for Your unfailing love, in which I will always trust
5. for the spiritual discipline of silence

Scriptures and Prayers from Seeking God’s Face: Praying with the Bible through the Year

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK FOURTEEN – DAY SEVEN

INVITATION

Your name, Yahweh, endures forever; your renown, Yahweh, throughout all generations.
(Psalms 135:13 WEB)

During this quiet moment, I think about the Lord, about how grateful I am to simply have Him in my life.

BIBLE SONG

For the director of music. To the tune of “Do Not Destroy.” Of David. A miktam.

Do you rulers indeed speak justly? Do you judge people with equity?
No, in your heart you devise injustice, and your hands mete out violence on the earth.

Even from birth the wicked go astray; from the womb they are wayward, spreading lies.
Their venom is like the venom of a snake, like that of a cobra that has stopped its ears,
that will not heed the tune of the charmer, however skillful the enchanter may be.

The righteous will be glad when they are avenged, when they dip their feet in the blood of the wicked.
Then people will say, “Surely the righteous still are rewarded; surely there is a God who judges the earth.”
(Psalms 58:1-5, 10-11 NIV)

BIBLE READING

Then the LORD said to Moses: “Set up the tabernacle, the tent of meeting, on the first day of the first month. Place the ark of the covenant law in it and shield the ark with the curtain. Bring in the table and set out what belongs on it. Then bring in the lampstand and set up its lamps. Place the gold altar of incense in front of the ark of the covenant law and put the curtain at the entrance to the tabernacle.
“Place the altar of burnt offering in front of the entrance to the tabernacle, the tent of meeting; place the basin between the tent of meeting and the altar and put water in it. Set up the courtyard around it and put the curtain at the entrance to the courtyard.”
Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. Moses could not enter the tent of meeting because the cloud had settled on it, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle.
(Exodus 40:1-8, 34-35 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I continue to rest in the presence of the Lord, I linger over these passages, looking for truth and inspiration to guide my life.

I admit that I struggle with passages like Psalm 58. While I do acknowledge that earthly rulers and judges are mostly corrupt, devising injustice constantly, and meting out violence right and left, I am more than a little uncomfortable with the thought of dipping my feet in the blood of the wicked.

That just doesn’t seem very Christlike to me. I know, it’s right there in the Bible. But I also know that David was not allowed to build the temple of the Lord because he was a man of war.

David rose to his feet and said: “My brothers and my people! It was my desire to build a Temple where the Ark of the LORD’s Covenant, God’s footstool, could rest permanently. I made the necessary preparations for building it, but God said to me, ‘You must not build a Temple to honor my name, for you are a warrior and have shed much blood.’”
(1 Chronicles 28:2-3 NLT)

I do, however, look forward with great anticipation to the day when the righteous will receive their eternal reward.

In contrast, I really love reading the ending of Exodus. All the preparations have been finished, and the tabernacle is complete and set up, so what happens?

The presence of the Lord fills the tabernacle, and is so strong and intense that no human being can stand to enter it.

I have often longed for that kind of thing to happen in our present day. What would it be like if, in the middle of a worship gathering, the presence of the Lord became so thick that we couldn’t continue what we were doing? I picture an extended period of total silence in worship, because what could you say that would do anything but detract from the moment?

This makes me wonder why modern churches are so terrified of silence. I have been a music minister and a worship leader. I have worked with pastors who always insist that some kind of music be playing in the background, even during prayers.

Why???

I could never get a straight answer.

I’m a fan of silence. If someone else is praying, and the instruments are playing a song, guess what I’m thinking about! That’s right . . . the words of the song! And what if it’s a song I don’t care for? That makes it even more distracting.

In the book of Revelation, the last word on everything in the Bible, when the seventh seal was opened, there was silence, complete and utter silence, in heaven for about a half an hour.

Can you even imagine having thirty minutes of complete silence in the middle of your Sunday morning worship service?

Father, we seem to be really afraid of silence. We have gotten so used to noise in our culture, yet it is noise that distracts us from You and keeps us from hearing Your voice. We love to talk about the “quiet whisper” or the “still small voice” that Elijah encountered in that cave, but then we make all this noise! How can we expect to hear Your still, small voice, when there is always some kind of noise going on? Help us to quiet down. Help us to fall in love with silence, so we can hear You speak to us. I pray for opportunities, in my future, to observe and practice the spiritual discipline of silence and solitude. And I pray that all of us might experience something similar to Moses’s experience when Your Presence filled the tabernacle.

I pray, Lord, for Your Church to flourish around the world. May our worship glorify You, no matter how we choose to observe it and participate in it. May our worship gather, unite, and bless Your people. I pray for all denominations, agencies, and programs in Your Church around the world.

"God with us,
the tabernacle represented the place you lived among your pilgrim people.
How can I thank you,
Jesus,
for becoming the true tabernacle by dwelling among us and providing the way into your holy presence through the blood of your sacrifice?
Make my everyday living a place where I and others find heaven on earth.
Amen."

BLESSING

Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts and establish you in every good work and word.
(2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 WEB)

This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!
(2 Corinthians 5:17 NLT)

Now all glory to God, who is able to keep you from falling away and will bring you with great joy into his glorious presence without a single fault.
(Jude 1:24 NLT)

I pray for peace in our nation, peace in our world. I pray for racial injustice to end, and I pray for the pandemic to be over. Above all else, though, I pray for Your will to be done, on earth as it is in heaven. For Yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

All glory to him who alone is God, our Savior through Jesus Christ our Lord. All glory, majesty, power, and authority are his before all time, and in the present, and beyond all time! Amen.
(Jude 1:25 NLT)

Grace and peace, friends.